During the Depression years between 1936 and 1938, the WPA Federal Writers' Project (FWP) sent out-of-work writers in seventeen states to interview ordinary people in order to document their life stories. Initially, only four states involved in the project (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia) focused on collecting the stories of people who had once been held in slavery. In 1937 the WPA directed the remaining states involved in the project to conduct interviews with former slaves as well. Federal field workers were given instructions regarding the kinds of questions to ask their informants and how to capture their dialects, the result of which may occasionally be offensive to contemporary readers. The field workers often visited the people they interviewed twice in order to gather as many recollections as possible. Sometimes they took photographs of the informants and their dwellings. The completed narratives were then turned over to their state's FWP director for editing and eventual transfer to Washington, D.C.
The former slave narratives presented in ECHOES of SLAVERY represent a small segment of more than two thousand first-person accounts of actual slave experiences, transcribed in their own words by the FWP and recorded for posterity. These first-person testimonials open a window into the past, enabling contemporary readers a rare opportunity to share the trials, fears, frustrations, hopes, and visions of those individuals caught up in the maelstrom that was 1800's America.
Walk alongside these resolute men and women in ECHOES of SLAVERY as they portray the real world in which they struggled and endured. Experience the harsh and often brutal reality of slavery as it really was!